International Criminal Court and Victims of Genocide, Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes

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The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) has several unique provisions for victims. First, victims may participate in cases before the Court. Second, victims are entitled to reparations from those convicted by the Court, and the Court has a fund and procedures for victims to obtain reparations from the Court itself.

Victims’ Participation in Proceedings

Under the Statute’s Article 68(3), the Court “shall permit [victims’] views and concerns to be presented and considered at [various] stages of the proceedings . . .and in a manner which is not prejudicial to or inconsistent with the rights of the accused and a fair and impartial trial.” In doing so, the Court, under Article 68(1), “shall take appropriate measures to protect the safety, physical and psychological well-being, dignity and privacy of victims and witnesses . . . [having] regard to all relevant factors, including age, gender . . .  and health, and the nature of the crime, in particular, but not limited to, where the crime involves sexual or gender violence or violence against children.”

To carry out these provisions, the Court has created the Office of Public Counsel for Victims that seeks to ensure effective participation of victims in the proceedings before the Court by providing legal support and assistance to the legal representatives of victims and to victims. Members of the Office also may be appointed as legal representatives of victims, providing their services free of charge.

 Victims’ Right to Reparations

Article 75(1)-(2) of the Rome Statute provides that the Court “shall establish principles relating to reparations to, or in respect of, victims, including restitution, compensation and rehabilitation” and “may make an order directly against a convicted person specifying appropriate reparations to, or in respect of, victims, including restitution, compensation and rehabilitation.”

Pursuant to that provision, the Court’s Assembly of States Parties has adopted Rules of Procedure and Evidence. Its Rule 97 (1) provides that the Court ” may award reparations on an individualized basis or, where it deems it appropriate, on a collective basis or both” in light of ” the scope and extent of any damage, loss or injury.” In addition, Rule 97(2) allows the Court to ” appoint appropriate experts to assist it in determining the scope, extent of any damage, loss and injury to, or in respect of victims and to suggest various options concerning the appropriate types and modalities of reparations.

To assist in the reparations effort, the Statute’s Article 79(1) directs the Court’s Assembly of States Parties to establish a Trust Fund “for the benefit of victims of crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court, and of the families of such victims.”

Such a trust fund (Trust Fund for Victims (TFV)) has been created, the first of its kind in the global movement to end impunity and promote justice. The TFV addresses and responds to the physical, psychological, or material needs of the most vulnerable victims. It raises public awareness and mobilizes people, ideas and resources. It funds innovative projects through intermediaries to relieve the suffering of the often forgotten survivors. The TFV, for example, is providing a broad range of support in northern Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo – including access to reproductive health services, vocational training, trauma-based counseling, reconciliation workshops, reconstructive surgery and more – to over 80,000 victims of crimes under the ICC’s jurisdiction.

In light of the conviction of Thomas Lubanga Dyilo, the TFV Board of Directors recently decided to increase the Fund to 1.2 million Euros. The Board also called upon the Court and States Parties to intensify efforts to identify and freeze assets of persons accused before the ICC, for the eventual purpose of financing Court-ordered reparations.

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As a retired lawyer and adjunct law professor, Duane W. Krohnke has developed strong interests in U.S. and international law, politics and history. He also is a Christian and an active member of Minneapolis’ Westminster Presbyterian Church. His blog draws from these and other interests. He delights in the writing freedom of blogging that does not follow a preordained logical structure. The ex post facto logical organization of the posts and comments is set forth in the continually being revised “List of Posts and Comments–Topical” in the Pages section on the right side of the blog.

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